Abused children are dying in a system that should be protecting them.

Investigations have begun into the NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services following the death of Zymere Perkins, a 6-year-old, beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend last month. His mother had been the subject of at least five investigations of child abuse since 2010. Governor Cuomo and the City of New York want answers as to why children are dying when the perpetrator is known to the system as an abuser. Shouldn’t they investigate those associated with the suspected abuser, as in the case of Zymere?

We launched a new version of our New York Mandated Reporter course and felt it was time we spoke out about a system that appears to be broken. Hearing about Zymere was devastating to me. How can I, as a nurse and mandated reporter, protect a child when our government agencies are unable to follow up on the reports from those of us on the front lines of child care? The social worker at his school, a mandated reporter, noted that there were bruises on Zymere and made the call to the child abuse hotline.

Why then are these children, victims of repeated abuse, dying? It is obvious the system designed to protect them has failed them. What can be done? The foster care program has flaws of its own, so this may not be the answer for these children. It’s time to look at a new paradigm, to radically change a system that has failed so many children.

Close-up picture of a young girl
@JPagetRFphotos | Adobe Stock

A community problem

Should we place blame on the caseworkers investigating the abuse? Of course not! I personally think the overall system is to “blame”, not the caseworkers who are working multiple cases and dealing with mounds of paperwork. This is truly a community problem. There have been many attempts by NYC mayors to change the current system, with multiple name changes of the agency in the process, but the bottom line is that we are a long way from making NY safe for all children.

What can be done? We need to continue to make reports and be vigilant about protecting children that we suspect  are being abused. Let’s be a part of the solution and talk among mandated reporters and recommend some new ideas to our agencies who are trying to protect these children.

Learn more

You don’t have to be a mandated reporter to report abuse in New York State. Learn about the indicators of abuse in Child Abuse: Mandated Reporter Training in New York State.